What Impact Will Defunding The Police Have On Communities?
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor due to police brutality, there is a nationwide uproar for a call to defund the police, but what does it mean? “Defunding the police” simply means demanding reform by redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies. In other words, chopping down the rotten trees and replanting fresh roots.
Data shows that 9 out of 10 calls for services are for nonviolent encounters. Police are trained for worse case scenarios to reduce potential threats, however, police often contribute to the escalation of violent force. The American Civil Liberties Union offers a three-part formula for their vision of defunding the police:
- Prohibiting police from enforcing a range of non-serious offenses, including issuing fines, and making arrests for non-dangerous behaviors, eliminating many of the unnecessary interactions between the police and community members that have led to so much violence and so many deaths;
- Reinvesting savings from the current policing budgets into alternatives to policing that will keep local communities safe and help them thrive;
- Implementing common-sense, iron-clad legal constraints, and other protections on the rare instances in which police officers do interact with community members.
What will defunding look like? According to Brookings, Los Angeles will have at least $100 million reallocated away from Los Angeles Police Department to programs for minority communities. Baltimore City Council voted to reallocate $22 million away from the police department’s budget for 2021, which is typically over $500 million. The city council plans to redirect the funding to recreational centers, trauma centers, and forgivable loans for Black-owned businesses. Prince George’s County, Maryland, plans to reallocate $20 million away from a new training facility for its police department (though the money will not come out of the police department’s budget) and to remove student resource officers from schools. Areas such as Minneapolis, have advocated for removing police officers from schools as well.
Reformers would like to see reallocation of funding to be used as resources for programs for mental illness. More of the money that police department’s have in their budget should also go toward mental health training. Given the everyday encounters police have with communities, it is serious to recognize mental health issues people face and how to deal with it.
Feature Image via The Denver Post